Huichol mitology

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By: Elízabeth Méndez

The elders tell us that a long, long time ago, in the Sierra Huichol grandparents met to discuss their situation. The people were sick, there was no food or water, there was no rain and the land was dry. They decided to send four young people from the community to hunt, with the task of finding food and bring it to the community to share, no matter how much or how little they hunted. Each represented an element, namely: fire, water, air and land. The next morning the four youngsters began their journey, each carrying his bow and arrow. They walked for days until one afternoon out of some bushes jumped a big, fat deer. They were tired and hungry, but when they saw the deer, they forgot everything and began to run behind him without losing sight. The deer looked at the youngsters and felt compassion. He left them to rest for a night and the next day, he aroused them to continue the chase. Weeks went by before arriving in Wirikuta (desert of San Luis Potosi and sacred path of the Huicholes). They were right on the pathway of the hill next to the Cerro de las Narices (Hill of Noses), where the spirit of the land dwells and they saw the deer jump in that direction. They swore that he had gone that way, and they tried to find him but did not succeed. Suddenly one of them shot an arrow that fell into a big deer figure, shaped from peyote plants in the ground. Collectively, and with the sunlight, all of them sparkled, as emeralds do, looking at one direction. The youngsters were confused with what had happened, they decided to cut the plants that formed the deer figure (Marratutuyari) and take them to their village. After days of walking, they arrived to the Huichola mountain where the villagers were waiting. They immediately went to the elders and told them about their experience. They began to hand out the peyote (híkuri) to everyone who, after a while were cured, fed and no more thirsty. Since then the Huicholes worship peyote that at the same time is deer and corn, their spirit guide. So each year, even now, they continue to walk and pilgrimage, keeping this route alive, from the Huichola sierra to Wirikuta, to ask God for rain, food and health for their people.
Pampariusi (thanks in the Wirrarika language).


Huichol Huichol


By: Nareden

The pilgrimage to the desert of the Huicholes of San Luis Potosi, has an unknown origin, at least for me. I, personally, am unaware of the existence of anthropological studies that give a rational explanation for this pilgrimage, why and how the Huicholes from such distant lands arrived to these desert sites and found a powerful plant that is the center of all their traditions and keep my irrational explanation, saying that often, events that mark the course of a given fragment of the human race are born out of the visions of individuals with very special qualities, individuals, we would say, that have a direct contact with the Great Spirit of Life, and from that source they get clear signals of the direction to follow for their own people. They mark the road and what then triggers a tradition is born of the daily living along with the passing of generations and new inspirations from other spiritual leaders. As always with all these traditions, it seems that the modernity of our times, the tools and conveniences are ending with the most heroic aspect of this pilgrimage, the trek that takes at least forty days roundtrip, fasting, fulfilling promises and special assignments. People who make this trip are very strong, they carry very little to eat and to keep warm, but carry many offerings, enduring cold and punishments along the way, and if this is indeed a journey where you are willing to offer the most valuable of your own self so that the Spirit transforms and guides your life in the right direction, it is a small price. The idea is that you leave your home in the mountain range to go visit Paradise where the great Fathers, who gave you life and food, live: On the road you go visit some Great Mothers in specific places, for example Tatei Matinieri, Mother of the Great Waters, etc.; that through your effort and deprivation during the pilgrimage to His Dwelling, you are getting rid of whatever is superfluous in you, you leave everything behind in order to meet face to face with your personal vision of life, in fact, the Great-Great-Grandfather will reveal your life once you reach the Paradise, that, in the case of this tradition in particular, is beyond the limitations of personal everyday life but not beyond this earthly existence as is established in Christianity, for example. During the pilgrimage, you try to leave everything behind, only flesh, bone and spirit remain and with them, you confront your gods. Furthermore, not only do you confront them ... you are going to be them during these forty days in a pantomime, in a theater on wheels rather than legs that begins in the place where you will leave your everyday life and then return to it. So at the beginning of the journey you confess all your sins in front of others, sins that in the case of Huicholes refer only to sexual infidelities ... with whom you've been sleeping or simply with whom you wish to have sex and has not corresponded. Possibly, in the confession, in this group of pilgrims, is the husband of whom you are confessing to have laid your hands on, but these are sacred spheres, spheres where the sense of I is pursued and achieved, and both will need to have the courage of true men, you to confess, and he, to ignore what he heard, for the rest of the journey, even for the rest of his life. The journey is hard, walking from dawn to dusk without stopping even to drink water, little is eaten and without salt, only “gordas”, and at night it is very cold, but it is part of the Grand Journey so these details are not questioned, you suffer, of course you suffer, but everyone tries to endure with poise and dignity. The Guide changes the names of the pilgrims three times during the trek, giving some of them identities of gods, each according to special events or by changing the nickname of objects for their opposites and the like. Giving special indications at certain times, sometimes bandaging the eyes of apprentices in parts of the journey, sometimes perhaps, providing a sign of his personal power so that the faith of the pilgrims will not decline, playing his music in the campsites and teaching with his chants about how things stand in the world we see and also, in the one we do not see. In addition, he insists that the joy not subside. The Great Great-Great-Grandfather Tatewarí, Fire, is the main reference and guide, without It there is nothing, if It is not lit, there is no way for the story to continue. When it arrives to Wirikuta, the sacred search for peyote begins, but, are we hunting for the peyote, the Corn of all colors or the Great Master White Tailed Deer? It is not clearly known, they are mixed in a mysterious way, these three are actually one, so the cane arrows fall into the sandy desert ground surrounding a peyote family, but the singer is asking the Deer for forgiveness for killing him and wanting to eat it's meat, asking for his blessing, eating the bitter part of him and feeling him sweet, inviting others, asking it to clear our eyes in the inside so as to be able to see our Life. One must collect plenty of peyote for the ceremony at the Cerro Quemado and for those who are waiting for the return of the pilgrims in the Mountains. One has to fill many colotes (large baskets), and carry them during the twenty-day return trip and invite all the people that are preparing the big party in the ceremonial center. Those that went away forty days ago, are the same but they are different, they already saw the world with different eyes, with the inner eyes, and, although the weight of everyday life will sooner or later end their godly identities when they again become humans, they trust that something will stay within, not as memories of heroic acts that do exist but that are only in the mind and are useless, but something unnamed of great significance remains in the heart, something that has the power to continue to flourish in the mysterious realm of the invisible. Something that is good.





Ceremonial Center Las Latas in the Huichol Sierra
Ceremonial Center Las Latas in the Huichol Sierra











© 2008, Nicasio CarrilloCeremony in the Huichol Sierra
Ceremony in the Huichol Sierra





© 2008, Nicasio Carrillo Preparing for the feast
Preparing for the feast





© 2008, Nicasio Carrillo Sacred place in the Huichol Sierra
Sacred place in the Huichol Sierra


Huichol Shaman